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HSY4140 - The Raj Imagined: Stories and Films Of British India in Their Historical Context

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Ian Copland


Clayton Second semester 2007 (Day)


India exists in British consciousness, just as bilati-Britain-figures in educated Indians' imaginings during the Raj era. A few hold literary classic status, yet a number of stories by British authors set in India provide valuable evidence for how the English "constructed" India. Stories by Indian writers also reveal mindsets of Indian middle class and attitudes more ambiguous than from reading mainstream accounts. This unit seeks to test the utility of works of imagination as historical documents by comparing several English literary/filmic representations of the Raj with landmark "political" novels/films by Indian writers and directors, and testing these against historical records.


On successful completion of HSY4140 students will:

  1. Have a broad understanding of the relations between the British and their Indian subjects during the last eighty years of the Raj.
  2. Be familiar with a number of important novels and stories by English and Indian writers set in the India of the Raj.
  3. Be conversant with the problems of using fictional sources as historical texts.
  4. Be capable of researching and writing an extended original academic essay in the discipline of history.


Class participation: 10%
Research essay (7,000 words): 60%
Examination (2 hours): 30%

Contact hours

2 hour seminar per week


A Third Year sequence in History


HYM4140, HYM5140